Nightly News   |  November 04, 2013

Presidential politics at play in VA, NJ governor’s race

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons, is favored to become the next governor of Virginia. And in New Jersey, Chris Christie is running for re-election, but his supporters have their eyes on a bigger prize. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> barack obama was elected president five years ago today. tomorrow happens to be election day 2013 . in the two big governors races on the ballot tomorrow, the sub text is the race for the white house the next time around. our political director, chief white house correspondent is live for us tonight from vfw post 3401 in morris plains , new jersey. chuck todd , good evening good evening, brian. normally the off year elections are a signal about how the party in power is doing. this year it's different. the governor races in virginia , new jersey will have ramifications. but it is about a presidential campaign in 2016 .

>> reporter: good morning.

>> in new jersey, republican chris christie is running for re-election as governor but many of the supporters have their eye on a bigger prize. how many are excited about chris christie running for president? two hands?

>> reporter: i'm so excited. he 's wonderful . i think he'd make a great president. i want to be there.

>> hey, everybody.

>> in just a three hour drive to swipg state virginia reveals another high profile governors race where presidential politics is lurking in the background. a test of hillary clinton 's clout. terry mcauliffe , a friend of the clintons is favored to be the next governor.

>> reporter: terry has always been there for me. i'm pleased to be here for him.

>> the clintons together made ten appearances on his behalf using virginia as a testing ground for staffers, tactics and message. back in new jersey, chris christie 's opponent barbara buono tried the to make his presidential ambition an issue.

>> reporter: he wants to be president. i want to be your governor.

>> christie isn't afraid to joke about it.

>> reporter: you know, it feels like good new jersey november weather.

>> yet the national scrutiny has begun. a new book says mitt romney passed over chris christie as his running mate in part because of the governor's past wall street ties. christie 's bus stopped at diners and vfw halls where he's distanced himself from the tea party .

>> reporter: you watch craziness in washington, d.c. where these people don't do anything but yell and scream with each other. they don't work with each other, talk to each other. in new jersey we haven't let that happen.

>> christie wants to win big and prove he has a diverse group of supporters that's elusive for national republicans . there is another trend beyond presidential politics , brian. if you look at this sign there is a word you cannot find. it's the word republican. in virginia , good luck fiennding the word democrat on terry m mcauliffe's signs.

>> reporter: chuck, thanks.